In today’s article I want to go through autoregulation – or in simpler terms, how to adjust your training plan as you go.
A Training plan can be very rigid, set in stone and black and white. The trouble is, human beings are far from rigid creatures. We’re constantly changing, shifting and wavering in our energy, mood, stress levels and health. There are a ton of factors to take into account when looking at training on any given day, and if things aren’t quite adding up you need your training plan to allow for that.
Sometimes a short term setback is worth taking the hit for long term gain. We often see on social media and from meatheads in the gym that ‘go hard or go home’ mentality – if you don’t stick to the plan each and every single day then you’re a pussy. A lot of the time, when we’re fresh and physically ready for it, this can be agreed with. You’ve got to have the testicular fortitude to f*cking put the work in, at the end of the day. But the human body as an organism isn’t indestructible, and the sooner you realise this the sooner you’ll take better care of it as a vessel and your results will only get better.
Know When To Back Off Your Training Plan, And When To Push On
The goal with any training plan is to give it everything we have every single session. But as we’ve mentioned, this isn’t always possible. Our lives don’t revolve around the gym and plenty of other things can come and impede our ability to generate real intensity in our sessions.
External stresses from work, family, friends, dickhead arguments on social media – whatever it is. These take up mental energy and release catabolic hormones throughout the day – the kinds of hormones we want to save up for training, ideally.
Then we’ve got physical illness, anything from the common cold onwards that make training to our full potential near on impossible – and if we do manage it we’re in a hell of a state afterwards.
Finally we’ve got the most common factor – simple tiredness. Lack of sleep is a killer for training intensity. If it takes you 16 coffees to get going every morning you know you need to start optimising sleep and you’re probably not going to be able to train your hardest in the gym, no matter what training plan you follow.
The point is, all of these factors take up mental and physical energy for your body to try and recover from. And while your body is busy recovering from these, it’s not always a good idea to give it more stimulus to recover from – often this is just going to delay recovery from both the illness/stress and the training session. In simpler terms, you’ll be f*cked for a good few days. And when you’re f*cked, you can’t train. And when you can’t train, you can’t grow.
A good rule of thumb for knowing when to back off is the 1-10 scale. Rate yourself in the morning of a scale of 1-10. A 1 would be you feel like death is a very real possibility today, and 10 being you’re ready to f*ck shit up. Anything below a 5 is a day off training straight away. A 5-6 would probably be a lighter than planned session (for example, if you planned to do a heavy leg session switch it for a lighter upper body day), and 7 and above means you can smash it full throttle. Ideally, you’ll be sitting around a 7 and above as often as possible, but this takes conscious effort to optimise sleep, keep nutrition on a good level and really look after your body.
You Don’t Grow In The Gym, You Grow Outside It
Training yourself into a hole is a sure way to ruin your progress in the long term. So if you want to look no different or even worse in a year’s time than you do now, pay no attention to your body when it screams at you not to go to the gym and go anyway.
We must remember that training, the process of contracting muscle against a resistance, is simply the stimulus that triggers an adaptive response from the body – which results in bigger muscles. When we train, we’re tearing down muscle tissue. We doing damage to our bodies on purpose, and we’re applying a very controlled and deliberate stress on our nervous systems. If we apply too much stress and too much damage without giving any thought to how we’re actually going to recover, we don’t grow.
The actual process of building muscle occurs in the time after the session has taken place. The body repairs and builds the broken down muscle and we get bigger, over time (so long as all our recovery mechanisms are running well – diet, sleep, hydration, external stress minimisation, mobility, etc).
So yes, it’s important we give the body a reason to adapt. We need to train f*cking hard in the gym or we won’t change. But always keep in mind the fact that we aren’t growing in the gym, we’re doing damage. We have to be capable of recovering from the damage we do in the gym – or the whole process is completely pointless.
I hope this article was a useful insight into how to adjust training programmes as you go along and in response to unexpected hurdles that we all inevitably go through as human beings.
Any questions or comments please fire away.
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